A representative for dozens of music superstars, including Pharrell Williams, is telling YouTube that it had better remove about 20,000 videos or face a $1 billion lawsuit.
Music-business heavyweight Irving Azoff, who founded the new legal group Global Music Rights, has told the video juggernaut that it does not have performance rights to thousands of songs by about 40 of his clients, including the Eagles, Chris Cornell and John Lennon, the Hollywood Reporter says.
Meanwhile Google, which is planning to launch Music Key — its own subscription music service to compete with Spotify and Pandora — has said it does have the rights, prompting concerns of a music-industry showdown.
The threat of a lawsuit against YouTube comes amid a broader debate about the rights of musicians in a freewheeling era of digital access to songs. In December, Consequence of Sound reported that Williams’ megahit, “Happy,” generated just $2,700 for 43 million plays on Pandora.